Is Sugar-Free Ice Cream Healthy?

Many health-conscious people claim that sugar-free ice cream can be healthier and lower in calories. But is sugar-free ice cream really healthier for you?

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One of the new health trends to come out of this decade was innovative ice cream.

Oat milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and Lactaid based ice creams are being sold in grocery stores all over the nation after the increase in vegans and vegetarians.

Cow dairy alternative ice creams are only one trend, but low-calorie and sugar-free ice creams are also popular items in the frozen section.

The idea of sugar-free ice cream sounds too good to be true, but health junkies claim sugar-free ice cream can be healthier and lower in calories.

However, as it is with all health trends, sugar-free ice cream needs to be investigated further before it can be truly considered healthier. 

History of sugar-free ice creams

As people live more sedimentary lives and eat more sugar- and fat-rich foods, obesity increases.

Therefore, high demand for low-calorie, low-fat, and low-sugar foods, and food led production companies to respond with an abundance of snacks, ice creams, microwaveable meals, and beverages marketed as “healthier” with their low-calorie, low-fat, and low-sugar content

This trend also led to the creation of sugar substitutes.

A sugar substitute is a food additive that tastes like sugar but is low in calories.

Often, these sugar substitutes are dozens to hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, which means that fewer needs to be added to get the same effect as sugar.

For example, the artificial sweetener neotame, more commonly known as NutraSweet, is 8,000 times sweeter than sugar.

Because sugar substitutes are often more potent than sugar, they are also beneficial for the companies that produce them due to their low production costs and high-profit margins. 

Populations that benefit from sugar-free ice creams

1. Those looking to lose weight

Since sugar-free ice creams are often low calorie due to insufficient calories from sugar, sugar-free ice creams may be an expert, healthier alternative for people who wish to lose weight.

However, it should be noted consumers should still be limited since sugar substitutes are not appetite suppressants, and sugar-free ice creams are not the sole reason behind weight loss.

A nutritious diet along with regular exercise is the best recipe for healthy weight loss! 

2. Children with poor dental health

Since the bacteria do not ferment sugar substitutes in our mouths, they do not rot their teeth.

A scoop of sugar-free ice cream can serve as a cool treat for your child.

3. Patients with diabetes 

For people with diabetes, it can be hard to control blood sugar levels.

Sugar intake can be limited by substituting regular ice cream with sugar-free ice cream.

Sugar substitutes are metabolized more slowly than sugar itself, which can prevent blood sugar spikes. (For other tips on how to manage diabetes, visit our articles “Top 10 Arginine-Packed Foods,” and “The Best Time to Take Probiotics.”)

Cons of sugar-free ice creams

Though sugar-free ice creams are beneficial for certain populations, there are reasons why people still choose regular ice cream over sugar-free ice cream.

Here are a few reasons to consider when making your decision at your local grocery store’s frozen aisle. 

Sugar substitute allergies

There is such a thing as an allergy to aspartame, a commonly used sugar substitute in beverages, gums, and ice creams.

In every 20,000 children, 1 is born with the inability to metabolize phenylalanine, one of the main byproducts of aspartame.

This causes dangerous levels of phenylalanine build-up in the brain, which is especially harmful to children. 

Taste differences 

Sugar is one of the main ingredients needed to produce ice cream, and sugar substitutes cannot mimic sugar’s role in ice cream well enough.

Low-sugar and sugar-free ice creams often have a bitter aftertaste and are not as creamy as regular ice cream.

This is especially an issue with chocolate-flavored sugar-free ice cream because chocolate is already a bitter compound.

The bitter aftertaste of the sugar substitute further contributes to the bitterness of chocolate, which leads to an unpleasant taste.

Gastrointestinal issues

Sugar-free ice creams that contain sugar alcohols (certain types of alternative sweeteners) may cause flatulence, discomfort, or diarrhea if consumed in large amounts.

This reaction occurs with all sugar alcohol products and is different from lactose intolerance, an allergic reaction to lactase, found in many cow dairy products. 

Final recommendations

Sugar-free ice cream is a result of the demonization of sugar and fat from earlier decades.

Sugar is not necessarily dangerous or unhealthy; it is the overconsumption of sugar that is unhealthy.

If you enjoy eating sugar-free ice cream, continue to enjoy it!

For those who enjoy eating regular ice cream, continue to enjoy it as well!

Moderation is key, which means you can still treat yourself to a scoop of full-fat, full-sugar ice cream or low-fat, sugar-free ice cream as long as it is a treat used occasionally. 

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